Illadore's House o Crack - Copyright Infringement and Me

About Copyright Infringement and Me

Previous Entry Copyright Infringement and Me Nov. 3rd, 2010 @ 11:14 pm Next Entry
The tl;dr version of this post: My 2005 Ice Dragon entry, called "A Tale of Two Tarts" was apparently printed without my knowledge or permission in a magazine and I am apparently the victim of copyright infringement.

The story:
I was contacted early last week by a friend of mine who lives in the Northeast about my "As American as Apple Pie - Isn't!" article that was published in Cooks Source magazine, mostly to inquire how I had gotten published. This was news to me, as I hadn't ever heard of this magazine before.

However, some basic Google-fu lead me to find them online and on Facebook. In fact, after looking at the Cooks Source Facebook page, I found the article with my name on it on on "Page 10" of the Cooks Source Pumpkin fest issue. (No worries, I have screencaps.) The magazine is published on paper (the website says they have between 17,000 and 28,000 readers) as well as being published on Facebook as well.

So. I first phone the magazine then send a quick note to the "Contact Us" information page, asking them what happened and how they got my article. (I thought it could have been some sort of mix-up or that someone posted it to some sort of free article database.) Apparently, it was just copied straight off the Godecookery webpage. As you can see from the page, it is copyrighted and it is also on a Domain name that I own.

After the first couple of emails, the editor of Cooks Source asked me what I wanted -- I responded that I wanted an apology on Facebook, a printed apology in the magazine and $130 donation (which turns out to be about $0.10 per word of the original article) to be given to the Columbia School of Journalism.

What I got instead was this (I am just quoting a piece of it here:)

"Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was "my bad" indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.
But honestly Monica, the web is considered "public domain" and you should be happy we just didn't "lift" your whole article and put someone else's name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me... ALWAYS for free!"


I got nothing.
Scratch that. I sure as heck do. Let's go over the major points:

  • At this point, I am mad as hell. It is now the principle of the thing -- and I also can not quite believe that my copyright was violated -- and then I was informed that I should *pay them* for editing it for me!

  • The web is NOT public domain! Don't believe me? Try the University of Maryland University College -- or just Google it.

  • I should be thankful because I wasn't flat out plagiarized? Don't college students get, oh, I dunno, tossed out for being caught for plagiarism? How is this a valid argument?

    I have some ideas of where to go from here but I am more than willing to listen to other suggestions.



    EDIT: Nick does a better job of telling the story than I do: http://nihilistic-kid.livejournal.com/1553538.html -- Thanks, Nick!
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    From:fatesarchitect
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
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    I have been brought here by literally everything in my networking sphere: facebook, twitter, LJ... I'm shocked it's not on digg yet.

    I'll just express my outrage for you, since everyone else has done the advice route. I'm glad to see the internet is standing up for you, because the way you were treated was outrageous. And good on you for not simply sitting back and accepting a bullying editor.
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    From:ext_309763
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)

    Copyright Infringement

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    First of all, copyright infringement is the tort, not plagiarism. There is a difference between having a copyright (which, in the US, subsists from the moment of creation) and registering a copyright (which is required under US law to pursue a claim of copyright infringement in our court system.) Just because you didn't register your copyright doesn't mean anyone can grab your published work (and the Internet is a venue for publishing, not the wild frontier) and use it themselves without compensation. The Internet isn't free and while this idiot publisher would like you to believe her stupid, self-interested proclamations, she is wrong, wrong, wrong. She also should have been grateful that you offered a reasonable resolution instead of pissing all over you.

    As an attorney, although we are not establishing a client-lawyer relationship here, I would suggest you immediately register the copyright to the article. Since the article was originally published 5 years ago and the infringement has already taken place, you cannot avail yourself of statutory damages or attorneys' fees in your demands or any potential law suit. And I guarantee the runt knows the amount of recovery would be too small to interest any lawyer or make it cost-effective for you to hire one. However, you can probably go to your local volunteer lawyers for the arts and get some help at pushing this along to a reasonable solution.

    OTOH, you do have the option of sending a cease and desist letter under the DMCA to any server carrying the material and demand the take down. You find out who the DMCA agent for notice is by going to www.copyright.gov. The letter must contain a description of the work sufficient to identify it, a claim that you are the owner of the copyright, a statement that no right to use the work was granted, and a demand that it be expeditiously removed.

    Publicizing what has happened to you is a quick way to humiliate the perpetrator, but it could give rise to a claim of "trade defamation" against you. Truth is a defense in defamation, but it can be expensive to defend.

    I hate when these things happen, but as a photographer (yes, I am both a lawyer and a professional photographer) I do recognize that things I put up on line are likely to be stolen no matter how I embed copyright notices or statements that reuse requires a license. Registering the copyright to any work that goes on-line within 90 days of its first publication there establishes my keys to the courthouse door and reserves statutory damages (rather than actual damages) and attorneys fees as compensation for the tort.

    Find a local copyright lawyer and plan your next move. You were wronged. She's a thief.
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    From:elfs
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:56 pm (UTC)

    Re: Copyright Infringement

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    Given the sheer volume of copyright violations alleged from a brief search of articles in Cooks Source, as well as the list of companies whose work may have been reproduced (Time Warner, Disney, The Food Network, National Public Radio), Illadore will probably never get the apology she deserves, or the donation she requested, but she can take some comfort in the knowledge that Cooks Source will probably never see another issue.
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    From:gunnora
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)
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    I just experienced the same thing, except in my case, the woman took my Berserkergang article from the Viking Answer Lady website and submitted it to Lambda Alpha, the journal of the anthropology honor society, presenting it as her work. I totally felt violated.

    The editor of Lambda Alpha was horrified when I contacted him, and immediately took several steps to make it right. Immediately, they removed the article (pp. 2-9) of Alpha Lambda Journal 33 (2003). They also will be publishing an expanded version of the article under my name as author in an upcoming edition.

    I speak with personal knowledge of how distressing it is to find that someone else has stolen your work, and I hope that you end up with a resolution that salves the injury.
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    From:killersharky
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)
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    Glad to hear there are still some publishers who take plagarism seriously. Thanks for posting this story!
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)

    Copyright infringement...

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    Get in touch with David Friedman (Duke Cariadoc of the Bow). He had a similar experience...Emeril Lagasse took one of his recipes off of his web site and presented it as his own, with no acknowledgment to His Grace for the recipe. Not even a footnote in the end credits. Nothing. He can tell you what he was able to do.

    Elaine Koogler (Kiri in the SCA...I sent this suggestion through the SCA Laurels' list as well.)
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)

    More nerdrage: Consumerist

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    Just thought you'd like to know this has made the Consumerist this afternoon. Also, had some fun leaving a nastygram on their Facebook page.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)

    Copy all their material

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    I would start a new Facebook page, copy as many articles of theirs you can find and edit and rewrite them to your liking. All of their stuff that is on the web is now public domain.
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    From:megalion
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:44 pm (UTC)

    Re: Copy all their material

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    Except that it's looking like all their other articles are also stolen.
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    From:katanpetx
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC)

    Yoga Journal Did It Too

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    I submitted an article in response to a letter from Yoga Journal responding to my query about 16 years ago, and never heard from the magazine, which I assumed meant rejection. While doing a Google search recently, I found the article had been published without compensation or notification that the article was being published. The complete article popped up in Google Books. I've also been at a loss as to how to handle this situation, too. So the Internet both facilitates and reveals copyright infringement.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:ext_309773
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)

    Oh my!

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    The snide response is almost worse than them using your article!
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
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    Now you're in the Guardian
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/pda/2010/nov/04/cooks-source-copyright-complaint
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    [User Picture Icon]
    From:researchgrrrl
    Date:November 4th, 2010 08:07 pm (UTC)
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    Given the way interest in this has spread, I wonder if Judith Griggs will soon be Stephen Colbert's Alpha Dog of the Week.
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    From:satans_spawn
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC)
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    Just a fellow Livejournal well-wisher here. You've ruined them and I can only hope that you are compensated well for such appalling treatment.
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    From:mcfnord
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:13 pm (UTC)
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    I know you've been wronged by a stooge of a person, but I want you to know also that this whole response has been a hilarious good time. Mock them! Mock the wicked!
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:14 pm (UTC)
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    This woman can't even write proper English and she represents a magazine?!

    It suck so much that Griggs also turns it around on the victim to say that the victim should compensate the criminal for "rewriting" the stolen article.

    Disgusting.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:18 pm (UTC)
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    First, I'd like to say that I am in editorial at a small magazine. And this is ridiculous.

    I'm almost certain that once you publish something online, copyright is automatically yours, unless you specify that it is public domain.

    This guy is clearly not up-to-date on the newer copyright laws as they apply to online material. Not only is he rude, his holier-than-thou, head-stuck-up-my-butt attitude is incredibly unprofessional.

    It's crackpots like this that make the rest of the industry look terrible.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:20 pm (UTC)

    Seriously?

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    so how many AP articles have they lifted from the web?

    I'm a huge proponent of fair use but wow, this kind of ignorance and arrogance is pretty staggering.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:mithoviel
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
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    Wow...the editor has a lot of nerve.
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    [User Picture Icon]
    From:errantly
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
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    I hope you keep us posted, and continue to fight this. I'm honestly surprised that copyright attorneys haven't contacted you thusfar, and offered to work on contingency or pro bono. This will obviously get some press!
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    From:zizi_west
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
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    First they violate your copyright, then they insult you? Shame, shame, shame!

    I work in an academic library & not a week passes without a conversation with students re: proper citations, copyright, etc. I can understand an 18 year old not completely understanding copyright, but these are grown folks -- unethical and arrogant grown folks at that. Very bad for the image of the business.

    I do hope that you are able to take the appropriate legal action, and that the results are in your favor.
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    From:womprat99
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:26 pm (UTC)
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    I'm spreading the word about these jerks. We need to get tough on this type of disgusting behavior.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC)

    Great stuff

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    Just so you know, this page is going to be in my magazine's next issue. Please be sure to edit it, otherwise you'll be receiving a bill for wasting my time.
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)

    She should pay someone to edit her writing

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    She misspelled the name of one of the publications she says she worked for, it's "Housatonic Home" - not "Housitonic Home."
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    From:rotll
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:32 pm (UTC)

    Reddit

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    You've made the front page of reddit! Next will be 4chan and anonymous at this pace...[grin!]

    http://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/e147w/website_article_gets_copied_without_permission_by/
    (Replies frozen) (Thread)
    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:33 pm (UTC)
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    Many have suggested a lawyer, and I think this is a great idea, but might I suggest a class action lawsuit. Chances are yours is not the first article they have stolen. A class action lawsuit has the added benefit of really sticking it to them, and also attracting a better attorney as the potential payout is much more lucrative.
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    From:br0k3nsoul
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:43 pm (UTC)
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    At this point, it looks like class action would involve Disney, Martha Stewart, Paula Deen and CNN. I think somebody in there could hire a good attorney!
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:36 pm (UTC)

    Fight

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    Would LOVE for you to find a pro bono lawyer to sue their asses and make an example. What an obtuse woman that "editor" is.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)

    Plagiarism

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    Time to get an attorney and take them down for much more than $130. It seems they believe this is an okay practice and have probably done it to many other unknowing authors.
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    From:(Anonymous)
    Date:November 4th, 2010 07:38 pm (UTC)

    shameful

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    i even tried to type in Cooks Source into Facebook and it leads to some crazy page about Griggs. good job to the person who did that!
    Cooks Source made a huge mistake
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